Back to basics

21st August 1998 at 01:00

The original article: Scout and Brownie camp. These character-building jamborees have been around since the turn of the century, after Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes decided that young people needed a more regimented structure to become model citizens. Chances are, there's a local unit near you. The camps could be anywhere and in some cases that includes overseas.

Who goes?

Like all good clubs, you have to be a member first. Boys aged between eight and 10 are Cub Scouts, girls between seven and 10 are Brownies. Boys of 10 to 15 can join the Scouts proper, girls aged 10 to 14 are Venture Guides. There are further categories for young people to adults.

Amenities It very much depends where your unit decides to go. Brownie camps generally make use of their own centres, with fully serviced buildings. For the Scouts, the lowest common denominator is nothing fancier than a field, with the campers bringing everything with them, including tents, loos and food. Because this can be a little stressful, there is an increasing reliance on existing outdoor education centres, with on-site facilities.

What will they learn?

Anything from how to cook, climb a mountain or make a collage to paddling a canoe. The camp curriculum is set by the individual unit, and can involve arts and crafts as well as outdoor activities, games and sing-songs. Brownies can even work for a holiday badge. Scouts who go on camp abroad could find themselves building a school.

What will they live on?

For the Brownies there is only one campfire a week, so not many opportunities for toasting marshmallows. Otherwise, it's likely to be beans with everything. For the Scouts, the most basic catering is known as "backwoods cooking", which could mean converting a live rabbit into a stew without the aid of cooking utensils. The eight to tens are likely to have pasta.

What goes on when the sun goes down?

Campfires and sing-alongs, what else? The meaning of the lyrics "Ging gang goolie goolie goolie gotcha" may have been lost in the mists of time, but more readily identifiable songs can be found in the Scout and Brownie song-books. Often entertainment will be self-generated, such as comedy sketches. The Scouts also have something called the wide game, which means anything played over a wide open space involving teams, stealth and stalking.

Lodgings Well, that would depend on the unit, but it could be canvas. These days, however, it is more likely to be bunkhouse accommodation in dormitories.

Keeping in touch Some children bring their own mobile telephones or come supplied with phone cards. The latter usually return home unused along with the soap and flannel. There is always a contact number for parents.

Getting there A fairly DIY arrangement seems to operate, involving minibuses, local coaches or parental help. To a large extent the mode of transport will be determined by the location of the camp.

What does it cost?

Brownies are hesitant about putting a price on their summer holiday - they say it "varies from unit to unit". For the Scouts, a typical week's camp in this country could cost from Pounds 30 to Pounds 100, all inclusive. But for the Scouts who are heading off to Chile at Christmas for the world jamboree, camp will cost a cool Pounds 2,000.

And if they hate it?

This is one category for which both the Brownies and the Scouts do not think it essential to Be Prepared. After any first night homesickness, children generally get over it and then don't want to go home.

Contact: The Guide Association, 17-19 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1 OPT. Tel: 0171 834 6242; The Scouts, Baden-Powell House, Queens Gate, London SW7 5JS. Tel: 0171 584 7030. Or look in your local telephone directory for your nearest unit

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